'Science as inquiry' is a key content standard in the National Science Education Standards to be enacted by US science teachers. This paper is the result of a study that was conducted in order to understand factors that impacted the inquiry-based instruction of 14 beginning secondary science teachers. These teachers were part of a collaborative university/school district induction program designed to facilitate inquiry-based instruction. For a period of 1 year, the teachers were followed in an attempt to understand their teaching beliefs, instructional practices, knowledge of the nature of science and scientific inquiry, and their experiences with inquiry instruction in the classroom. Case and cross-case comparisons revealed five main constraints that impacted their enactment of inquiry-based instruction: An understanding of the nature of science and scientific inquiry, content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, teaching beliefs, and concerns about management and students. This study reinforces the need for standards-based induction programs that offer various forms of support to assist beginning science teachers.
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This study would not have been possible without the beginning science teachers or the research assistants who helped collect the data. The authors would like to acknowledge all of the beginning science teachers who shared their ideas with us and allowed us to visit their classrooms. They would also like to acknowledge Nancy Patterson and Steve Uyeda for their work on this project. Finally, the ASIST program in this study was funded in part through the Arizona Board of Regents’ Dwight D. Eisenhower Science and Mathematics Program, and the United States Department of Education: Arizona Teacher Education Coalition project. The results herein represent the findings of the authors and do not necessarily represent the view of personnel affiliated with either program.
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